What The Brexit Means For The Asia Job Market

Legal News & Analysis - Asia Pacific - Labour & Employment

30 June, 2016


Although most commentators are proclaiming "shock" "terror" "crisis", everyone knew there was a good chance that the UK would vote to leave the European Union, so countries and companies are prepared for it. 

Everyone knows that after the initial shock passes, and negotiations are done, things will settle down and the wheels of commerce will keep turning. Brexit could very well end up being a positive thing for the UK and Europe, and therefore the rest of the world. 

As reported in Yahoo Finance, forecasting firm IHS global insight predicts the UK's economy will fall sharply over the next few years before recovering but this was importantly tempered by Ian Richard, of Exane BNP Paribas, adding in The Telegraph that "From a market perspective this is not a systematic Lehman moment". 


Why? Because despite the initial bump, the underlining fundamentals of most of the business and markets are sound and those with a good plan and good management in place will continue to diversify their risk, to grow and very much continue to hire. 


Shock and uncertainty is the norm so we must keep everything in perspective.


Short term

The view from GRM about the effect this will have on the Asian job market, and in particular within professional and financial services firms based here that have exposure to the UK and Europe is actually very little in the short term. It could possibly be very positive in the medium and longer term.


We feel that after the initial shock settles down that most firms may look to Asia, and Hong Kong and Singapore in particular, as their growth markets/offices and hiring will actually increase, meaning this could well be a big boost for the job market in this region.


Investment banks, after the year they have had, have probably already earmarked some redundancy numbers, in underperforming departments, for this year. They may try to use Brexit as an excuse, but this will not be a knee-jerk reaction - it will have already been decided upon, and this wont stop growth and hiring in other sections of the organisation.


Private banks with sound growth plans in Asia will continue to build out and hire. Law firms will continue to strengthen in their core teams and may look to open in other Asian jurisdictions. Insurance firms are continuing to tap into the giant Asia market both in Life and GI and this will continue at a pace.


In the short term there maybe an increase in temping/contracting as firms look to get skills in with less commitment to permanent hires. In the medium term there maybe an increase in restructuring and insolvency work leading to hiring in the consulting and legal firms and compliance and regulatory work continues to be the financial markets biggest growing staffing area, this will continue.


All in all our outlook is very positive for the region.


As more firms look to diversify out of the "home" markets the biggest winners of that will be Asia and Africa.


So our tip is to "keep calm and carry on", ignore the doom and gloom headlines that some media outlets love so much and look for the opportunities for growth and hiring, which almost certainly involve Hong Kong and Singapore.


Other markets in Asia (SE Asia, China, Japan, Korea) will see a renewed focus by foreign firms looking to diversify and this will again lead to an increase in skilled hiring.


For further information, please contact: 

Rob Green, CEO, GRM Group